Welcome to LCBH’s Blog. Our blog delivers original articles written by our staff, interns and volunteers. We strive to provide informative stories about the work we do on behalf of Chicago renters and the issues renters face.
Join LCBH on October 28, 2014 as we welcome keynote speaker Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly, as well as celebrate and honor those who have made exceptional contributions to help preserve the vitality, diversity and affordability of Chicago's neighborhoods!
Ms. Wiles lived peacefully above her landlord in an owner-occupied building for over a year. During this time, she underwent training to become a foster parent, with the hope of adopting a child one day. To her surprise, she had the opportunity to adopt three siblings and keep a family together.
Unfortunately, Ms. Wiles’ landlord did not share her enthusiasm about the situation or like the idea of three children joining her in the upstairs apartment. The following month, the owner demanded an immediate rent increase of 47% and refused to accept the previously agreed upon rent listed in the lease. When Ms. Wiles was unable to pay the higher rent, the owner served her with a five-day notice to terminate the tenancy and then filed an eviction lawsuit.
Ms. Wiles came to LCBH seeking legal representation in eviction court where she was referred to the LCBH’s Attorney of the Day (AOD) eviction defense program. Ms. Wiles had a compelling defense based on discrimination against her due to her parental status, which is protected both in Chicago and Cook County. She also had a strong technical defense based on her landlord’s failure to provide her with proper notice.
This summer LCBH has seven legal interns and volunteers working with us. Without these students and recent graduates who come to spend their summer with us, LCBH would have a tough time offering the legal services our clients need. Here are a few highlights from each of them:
Sarah Barnes is a rising third year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. At LCBH, Sarah works with the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project (TFIP), assisting renters who are facing eviction due to a landlord’s mortgage foreclosure. Prior to law school, Sarah volunteered with the AmeriCorps program where she helped Michigan homeowners avoid foreclosure through counseling and home retention services. “When individuals and families do not have stable housing it affects every other aspect of their life.” Sarah enjoys working with tenants, especially at LCBH’s help desk. “There are many laws protecting tenants in this position, but most tenants do not know their rights and do not know where to turn for help.” Sarah has enjoyed working with the TFIP program and hopes to continue volunteering at the help desk in the fall.
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This summer LCBH has four undergraduate interns working in our Supportive Services Department. This is a BIG help as our graduate interns are only here during the regular school year from September until June. Without these students who come to spend their summer with us, LCBH would have a tough time offering the level of service our clients need. Here are a few highlights from each of the students:
Helena Bassett is interning at LCBH through the Summer Links program at the University of Chicago, where she is entering her third year. She is studying history and critical theory, and spends most of her time organizing with the student arm of the Trauma Center Coalition. Working with Supportive Services, Helena is crafting a survey to help get a clearer picture of tenants’ actual needs beyond legal help when they are accepted as an LCBH client. Right now, that means she gets to connect with some of the amazing tenants that have already gone through Supportive Services so that the tenants’ own perspectives help shape the survey and the direction of the program. “I believe that one of the most fundamental ways that asymmetrical power structures are expressed is through the often unjust relationship between tenant and landlord. Working at LCBH shows me one of the avenues possible for challenging that structure.”
Congratulations to our former Supportive Services interns who graduated this past Spring: Hannah Jones, Ellie Hart, Scott Houghton, Loretta Maestranzi, Tiffany Micek and Emily O’Kelly!
LCBH’s Supportive Services Director, John-Paul Beals, was able to attend the graduation ceremonies and said, “I was like a proud parent. What an amazing thing to witness the reward for the hard work these students have done to reach this milestone!”
Over 100 guests joined LCBH at our Summer Event on Tuesday, July 22 at Revolution Brewing. Guests had a great time networking and enjoying the great craft beers. The brewery tours were also very popular. Thanks to everyone who attended and special thanks to the LCBH Young Professional Board for organizing the event!
This summer, staff took time to enjoy an afternoon of bowling at Timber Lanes bowling alley. With the number of tenants in need of LCBH services increasing each year, the event was a nice break from staff members’ normally hectic schedules. Congratulations to staff attorney Noah Magaram for bowling the high score of the day!
The fifth issue in a series of foreclosure reports prepared by LCBH chronicles the often overlooked story of how Chicago renters are affected, and often displaced, by foreclosure.
The impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters has been catastrophic and, despite a 37% decrease in total filings on apartment buildings for the City of Chicago last year, the report shows the disproportionate devastation that continues in particular neighborhoods. All 10 of the community areas with the highest number of units impacted by foreclosure in 2013 are located on either the South or West sides of the city. These communities have had an average of 21.2% of their rental housing units enter foreclosure since 2009 - double the city-wide percent of rental units affected.
With the fragmented geography of the crisis in mind, the 2013 Report offers a guide to place-based policies, strategies, and solutions, tailored to stabilize long-term affordable housing in the foreclosure crisis context.
The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, and the Illinois Housing Development Authority have provided funding to LCBH, making it possible for us to reach out to communities throughout Illinois that have been affected by the foreclosure crisis. Although we do not offer direct representation to tenants outside of Chicago, LCBH is travelling throughout Illinois to provide legal information and resources to those areas disproportionately impacted by this crisis. We are visiting targeted areas which are often served by only one non-profit legal service, either Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation or Prairie State Legal Services, who are supporting large geographical areas in a broad spectrum of legal issues ranging from domestic violence and child support to defending termination of public benefits such as social security benefits. Often renters coping with the loss of housing due to foreclosure issues are unable to secure legal help. Our helpline may be the only legal resource accessible to people who live in more remote areas of our state.